[phpBB Debug] PHP Warning: in file [ROOT]/phpbb/session.php on line 585: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable
[phpBB Debug] PHP Warning: in file [ROOT]/phpbb/session.php on line 641: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable
SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News - Page 3 - Carers UK Forum

SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News

For issues specific to caring for someone with learning disabilities
Sadly, the more premature babies we "save" the more children there will be with special educational needs.
Some may be unaffected - my nephew was born at 24 weeks but no lasting effects, but others may have lifelong needs.
My own son was born at 40 weeks, but his delivery was bungled (busy night, trainee nurse, no supervision, not enough monitors to go round, not enough doctors to give me the epidural I desperately needed). No chance of compensation though, nothing written on the notes for three hours.

Long ago children with special needs all went to special hospitals where they received care and education, seldom seeing their parents. Society is still struggling to find the "right" alternatives. In the meantime parents are being left to care for their profoundly handicapped children with inadequate care and inadequate education. I have often felt that I have been punished for a crime I didn't commit. I didn't ask for a mentally handicapped child! I've always done my best for him, at great personal cost.
Special needs education in Lancashire is more segregated than elsewhere.

A meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet heard that there is a significantly lower proportion of young people with SEND being educated in mainstream schools in the county than is the case nationally. That is in spite of the fact that legislation introduced five years ago encourages the integration of SEND pupils in mainstream settings, with additional support provided if needed.

Currently, there are almost 10 percent more children with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) who attend special schools in Lancashire compared to the national picture – equating to 690 pupils.

The proportion of the EHCP cohort which goes to council or independently-run special schools in Lancashire is 48.4 percent, whereas across the country, the figure stands at 38.6 percent.

“The balance of support for children and young people is in the wrong direction,” County Cllr Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for schools, said.

“We have got too few children’s needs being met in mainstream schools. The lack of access to support in mainstream schools and local specialist provision for those with the most complex needs is resulting in some of our children travelling huge distances outside of their community to get their education,” she added.

The meeting also heard that only a tiny fraction – 0.4 percent – of pupils with an EHCP attend special educational needs units within mainstream schools in the county, leaving the facilities under-utilised. Such units provide additional resources for young people with issues including hearing impairment, speech, language and communication difficulties and specific learning disabilities.

Cabinet members approved a new framework designed to improve outcomes for SEND children, enhance the additional support which they receive in mainstream settings and provide a consistent educational offering in which parents and carers are given choice and equal access.

It is estimated that Lancashire will need to find places for an additional 270 children with SEND over the next five years, 108 of which are likely to require special school provision.

The meeting heard that the so-called “high needs block” of funding which supports SEND provision is under pressure both locally and nationally – with Lancashire’s level of special school attendance resulting in “significantly increased cost”.
Special educational needs crisis deepens as councils bust their budgets.

Observer investigation reveals 30% rise in overspending against backdrop of a failure to meet demand for services.


The funding crisis in special needs education is deepening, with council overspends on support for children with conditions including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder rising by 30% in just a year, the Observer can reveal.

Figures sourced under the Freedom of Information Act from 118 of the 151 local authorities in England show that councils are expecting to overspend their high needs block budgets by £288m in 2019-20 – up from £232m in 2018-19. When money raided from mainstream schools budgets is included, however, these figures rise to £315m in 2018-19 and nearly £410m this year – a rise of almost 30% in the space of 12 months.

The high needs block is government funding that supports children with higher cost needs. Children with moderate special needs are funded via mainstream schools budgets.

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “The government has slashed funding for schools and now we are seeing the consequences. This overspend reveals the stark reality that our children are not getting the support they need.

“Ministers need to abandon any plans for tax cuts for the rich and invest in our pupils and schools instead – ensuring they have the resources to support every child, particularly those with Send [special educational needs and disabilities].”

The huge council overspends are despite the government injecting £250m of emergency funding over two years into special needs education last December.

The situation may get worse. Last November, the Observer revealed that 117 councils were forecasting a collective high needs overspend of £200m in 2018-19. At that point, Surrey council was expecting to achieve a balanced budget “on the basis that savings would be found”. Instead, it overspent by nearly £15m – the highest in the country. Its response to the Observer’s FOI request shows an overspend of £31m this year. A council spokesperson insisted that there was no forecast overspend this year – but this will only be after the council pumps in £29m to try to balance the books.

Gillian Doherty, who founded Send Action which campaigns for children with special needs, said: “Despite the increase in councils’ so-called ‘overspends’ we continue to see cuts to specialist support This is contributing to a growing attainment gap between disabled and non-disabled pupils.

“There’s no doubt that government underfunding is having a negative effect on the educational outcomes and life chances of disabled children, undermining inclusion and increasingly raising serious safeguarding concerns due to inadequate staffing ratios.”

Most councils have adopted plans to reduce the special needs deficits. This often takes the form of increasing local special needs provision to lessen costly out-of-area placements, but this will take time to have an effect. And some councils are considering direct funding cuts.

Cambridgeshire council will consult on savings proposals this autumn to cut special needs top-up funding for mainstream schools and high needs units, review top-up rates for further education and cut other high needs spending such as after-school clubs.

A Cambridgeshire council spokesperson said: “Despite a new formula, the high needs block funding is not reflective of the current level of need or costs for children in Cambridgeshire with special needs.

“We have significant pressure in delivering specialist services across a large geographic area and we have faced year-on-year increases in both the number of children being supported and the complexity of their needs.”

Anntoinette Bramble of the Local Government Association said: “Councils have seen rapid rises in demand for support following changes in 2014 which extended eligibility to the 16-to-25 age group. [Since then,] councils have overseen an increase of nearly 50% in children and young people with EHC [education, health and care] plans – or, in their previous form, SEN statements.

“Councils are facing a high needs shortfall of up to £1.2bn next year, which we are calling on the government to address in the upcoming spending round.”
Parents win funding to mount legal challenge over school closure.

Bindmans law firm are investigating the lawfulness of St Christopher’s school closure.

Parents shocked by the sudden closure of a residential unit at a special needs school in Bristol, which resulted in children with severe and complex learning difficulties having to move out, have won legal aid funding to investigate a possible challenge to the lawfulness of the decision.

Parents were called at work and summoned to pick up their children from St Christopher’s – an independent special school and residential care home in Westbury Park, in the north of the city – after Ofsted suspended its registration due to safeguarding concerns.

Police confirmed at the time they were investigating allegations of child cruelty and a number of staff were suspended pending the outcome. Parents expressed anger at the way the closure, which happened three weeks ago, was handled and sought legal advice.

Kevin Maxwell, whose 16-year-old son Jonah was one of around 30 pupils moved out of St Christopher’s, has been granted legal aid funding to investigate potential claims resulting from the closure. Jonah is now living at home.

He said: “We remain extremely concerned about the closure of St Christopher’s and have instructed [the law firm] Bindmans to investigate the lawfulness of the decision. Along with the other families involved, the closure continues to have a significant impact on both our son and our family. Given the extent of Jonah’s autism, it simply can’t be in his best interests for the doors of his home for the past six years to be shut as abruptly as they were.”

A statement from Bindmans said: “We have been instructed by the Maxwells to advise on the lawfulness of the actions and decisions that led to the sudden closure of the residential unit at St Christopher’s.

“The Maxwells have been granted a legal aid certificate which will allow them to investigate any potential claims in respect of that sudden closure. The next step will be to provide the Maxwells with formal legal advice. Unfortunately, such advice can only properly be given on a confidential and legally privileged basis and we are therefore unable to speculate as to what such claims might involve.”

At the time of the closure, Ofsted said the residential unit at St Christopher’s had been inspected in June and was judged inadequate. “On Monday 29 July, we issued St Christopher’s with a suspension of registration notice because of serious concerns about safeguarding.”

St Christopher’s is run by the Aurora Group, a private company specialising in special education care. An Aurora spokeswoman said at the time: “We are deeply concerned about the serious allegations against a small number of staff who were immediately suspended. We are now focused on doing all that we can to support the children, young people, their families and carers, and the many caring and dedicated staff who are affected during this difficult time.”

Ofsted later said it was confident it made the right decision. “That is because in July we were made aware of new significant concerns about child cruelty, which now form part of a major ongoing police investigation. We only take such decisions to suspend children’s homes registrations when there is a reasonable belief that any children may be at risk of harm – this test is set out in law. The decision was also taken after strategy meetings with other agencies, which shared our concerns.

“We understand the distress this caused to the families involved, but it is important that we take swift action where we have serious concerns about children’s safety. When children’s homes close it is up to local authorities to find suitable accommodation for children in care, and we always work with them during this process.”

According to Ofsted, St Christopher’s school has been inspected seven times since it was registered in 2016 and has never been graded better than “requires improvement”. In June, it was inspected and judged to be inadequate for a second consecutive time.

“Following this inspection we took steps to restrict more placements at the home and served a notice of proposal to cancel registration. Following the decision to suspend, St Christopher’s school did not appeal the decision and chose to voluntarily cancel its registration.”
Special educational needs children " Forced out of mainstream education " across Yorkshire.

The number of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream education has fallen in the county since 2012, while the number attending special schools has risen by almost a third, analysis by JPIMedia shows.

In 2012, the proportion of children with SEN in Yorkshire’s primary and secondary schools was 19 per cent, according to the latest Government statistics.

But as of 2019, this had fallen to 14 per cent.

And the number of children attending special schools has risen in the county by 35 per cent, the Department for Education (DfE) figures reveal.

This is despite the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which states that children with SEN should usually be given a place in mainstream classes.

The Government said all schools should be inclusive.

The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) has accused the Government of an “on-going attack on disabled people’s rights to be included rather than segregated from society”.

Simone Aspis, policy and campaigns coordinator at ALLFIE, said: “Parental choice is a myth – parents we know do not choose special school provision, they are forced into it because mainstream schools no longer have the money and support to implement inclusive education practice.”

She said the Government was dealing with a shortfall in SEN places by planning new special schools rather than funding better provision in mainstream education.

She added: “This is no longer about austerity, but rather this Government’s on-going attack on disabled people’s rights to be included rather than segregated from society.”

Nationally, the number of children with SEN in mainstream education in England has dropped by a quarter - 24 per cent - since 2012, while the number attending special schools has increased by nearly a third - 31 per cent.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “All schools must be inclusive of children with disabilities and 82 per cent of all pupils identified as having special educational needs are in state-funded mainstream schools.

“Additionally, we have created new special schools in response to the increasing number of pupils with complex special educational needs and are committed to delivering even more provision to ensure every child is able to access the education that they need.”

Mainstream schools in England are now the least inclusive in the UK, the analysis by the JPIMedia data unit shows.

Now, only about one in seven children in mainstream primaries and one in eight children in mainstream secondaries have special needs.

The proportion of mainstream primary school pupils who have special needs in Yorkshire is now 18 per cent. This is a fall from 15 in 2012.

Integration of SEN pupils is even worse in secondary schools in the county. The proportion of mainstream secondary school pupils who have special needs is now 12.5 per cent. This is a fall from 20.5 per cent in 2012.

The proportion of mainstream primary school pupils who have special needs in Yorkshire is now 18 per cent. This is a fall from 15 in 2012.

The 15 local authorities in England with the lowest percentage of SEN pupils in mainstream primaries and secondaries in 2019 include York, which tabled at number 10 and 11 respectively.

Maxine Squire, assistant head of education at City of York Council, said: “Since 2014, we have had a 40 per cent rise in the number of SEN pupils and students linked to complex autism, which has increased demand for special school places.

“In addition, some of our special school provision is on mainstream school sites so, while pupils access mainstream education for some of the time they will be on the special school roll.

"This includes provision at the Hob Moor Academy school site, at Orchard - delivered at Manor CE Academy - and satellite provision, and at Haxby Road Primary Academy’s enhanced resource provision.

“Our small cohort and mixed SEN provision in York can mask the reality.”
Children with special needs are marginalised at school, says NAO.

National Audit Office says the system incentivises schools to be less inclusive.

( Stats quoted ? Someone had a bad day ... stick to smoking ordinary baccy , squire ... ? )

Children with special needs and disabilities are being marginalised by mainstream schools in England, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) which says the system incentivises them to be less inclusive.

The NAO accuses the government of misjudging the financial impact of its changes to education, with rising numbers of pupils with special needs unable to be accommodated in mainstream schools following a combination of funding strains, off-rolling and exclusions.

This has resulted in local authorities having to break their budgets to fund additional places in special schools, including in more expensive independent schools, its report says.

The investigation found that mainstream schools had incentives to avoid enrolling pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), because of the additional costs imposed on school budgets and from the impact on the school’s league tables.

“Stakeholders in the sector have raised concerns that the demand for special school places is growing because the system incentivises mainstream primary and secondary schools to be less inclusive,” the NAO said.

“Mainstream schools are expected to cover the first £6,000 of support for a child with Send from existing budgets and cost pressures can make them reluctant to admit or keep pupils with Send.

“Another barrier is that schools with high numbers of children with Send may also appear to perform less well against performance metrics.”

The NAO’s figures showed that while the number of pupils with high needs has risen over the past four years in special schools, alternative provision and independent special schools, the number enrolled in mainstreams schools was still lower in 2018 than in 2014 or 2015.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said the government has committed to providing an extra £700m next year to help educate children with Send, along with launching a review of support.

“We have improved special educational needs support to put families at the heart of the system and give them better choice in their children’s education, whether in mainstream or special school,” the DfE said.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “While lots of schools, both special and mainstream, are providing high-quality education for pupils with Send, it is clear that many children’s needs are not being met.

“I therefore welcome the DfE’s announcement of a review into support for children with Send, following our engagement with them on this issue over recent months. We hope the review will secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed.”

The report noted that pupils with special needs were more likely to be permanently excluded than those without special needs. Pupils with Send accounted for nearly 45% of all permanent exclusions and 43% of fixed-term exclusions in 2017-18, despite accounting for only around 20% of the pupil population.

“Evidence also suggests that pupils with Send are more likely to experience off-rolling – where schools encourage parents to remove a child primarily for the school’s benefit – than other pupils,” the NAO wrote.

The 2014 education reforms replaced statements of special education needs with education and health care (EHC) plans, but the NAO said the DfE misjudged the financial consequences: “The department expected that the benefits and savings would significantly outweigh the costs of moving to the new system.”

Tim Nicholls, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, said ministers need to use the review announced last week to address the system’s serious problems.

“We hear awful stories every day of autistic children who are being held back from getting the education they deserve because schools don’t understand or can’t meet their needs. This can be devastating for them and their families, and mean they lose all faith in the system. This detailed NAO report shows the extent of this unacceptable situation,” Nicholls said.
Families - including North Yorkshire family - lose challenge over special-needs funding.

Three families have lost a High Court challenge against the Government over special educational needs funding.

The families, including the family of Benedict McFinnigan, 14, from Scarborough, brought the legal action over the Government's approach to providing special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding, on behalf of all young people who rely on it.

Their lawyers previously told the court there was a "genuine crisis" in Send funding for children and young people which could "blight their lives forever".

But, in a ruling on Monday, Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no unlawful discrimination" in the way the Government made provision for SEND funding.

The legal action was brought by three children, who acted through their mothers - 14-year-old Benedict McFinnigan, from Scarborough, 15-year-old Nico Heugh Simone, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, and nine-year-old Dakota Riddell, of Birmingham.

Jenni Richards QC, for the families, told the court at a hearing in June that there was "clear and incontrovertible evidence" of a "substantial national shortfall" in funding.

Ms Richards argued that former chancellor Philip Hammond acted unlawfully in setting the national budget in October 2018, and former education secretary Damian Hinds did so when making available additional, but "manifestly insufficient", SEND funding in December.

She told Mr Justice Lewis they did not take enough account of the "nature and extent of the crisis" in SEND funding when making those decisions.

Ms Richards said Department for Education statistics showed "rising demand" for SEND funding, which had "not been matched by anything like a commensurate increase in funding".

She said the figures showed there were 25,540 young people aged 16-25 in January 2015 with a statement or education, health and care (EHC) plan, which had increased to 84,260 by January last year.

The families sought a declaration that the Government's approach to SEND funding is unlawful, which they said would force ministers to consider increasing the amount available.

Government lawyers, opposing the legal action, argued that the increase in demand was recognised by the ministers and Mr Hinds had "made it clear" that high needs would be one of his priorities ahead of the 2019 Spending Review.

Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no reasonable basis" for concluding that the defendants were treating children and young people with special educational needs in a similar way to other children without such needs.

He said: "Children and young persons with special educational needs are not treated in the same way or a similar way to others who do not have such needs.

"They are treated in a fundamentally different way, both legally and factually."

The judge said there is a legal regime aimed at identifying those with special needs, under which councils have to prepare assessments of the provision each child needs.

He said there is a right of appeal if a parent disagrees with a decision and a local authority cannot refuse to provide the necessary funding because of a lack of resources.

He added: "Factually, the funding system provides for additional funding through the high needs funding block. That is currently over £6bn a year.

"In addition, if local authorities need more money to ensure that special educational provision is made, they will need to transfer money from other parts of their budget or from reserves.

"Recognising the financial pressures on local authorities to meet their legal obligation to provide the specified special educational provision, the (Education Secretary) has, from time to time, made additional funds available specifically for special education needs - as he did with the allocation of an additional £350 million in December 2018."

The judge said the Government's 2019 Spending Review will address the budget for SEND funding for future years.

In the September spending round, the Government said it would provide an additional £700 million over the next year for pupils "with the most complex needs" and also announced a review into special educational needs and disability and how the law is working in practice.

The National Audit Office published a report last month which recommends the Government should prepare for next full Spending Review by reviewing the actual cost of providing Send services.

Anne-Marie Irwin, specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell law firm which represented the families, said: "We feel we put forward very strong legal arguments on behalf of the families that the decisions taken about SEND funding were so inadequate as to make them unlawful.

"We and the families are disappointed by today's decision but thank the court for hearing the case.

"How Send services are funded is still an incredibly important issue, affecting tens of thousands of families, and one that needs addressing.

"We welcome the announcements that were made after June's hearing pledging additional government money for SEND and for a review of the SEND system. However, our clients believe that there is still a long way to go.

"It is vital that action is now taken to ensure children benefit from these pledges so young people with SEND can access the education they are entitled to."

The case was supported by campaign network SEND Action, which held a demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the June hearing, as well as charities Mencap and the National Deaf Childrens' Society (NDCS).

The High Court previously rejected cases brought by families of children with special educational needs against Hackney and Surrey councils.
Special educational needs reforms" Failing generation of children. "

Pupils unsupported and families caught up in " Conflict and despair ", says inquiry.

A cross-party committee of MPs has accused the government of failing a generation of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) in a damning new report which calls for radical change across the system.

The report, by the education select committee, said ambitious government reforms, introduced in 2014 to improve the experiences of Send pupils and their families, had been poorly implemented with damaging consequences for many.

Children had been left without the additional support they merited, impacting not just on their education but in many cases their mental health. Their beleaguered families, meanwhile, were caught up in a nightmare of “bureaucracy, buck-passing and confusion” in a system which “breeds conflict and despair”.

During the course of the 18-month inquiry, the committee heard from 70 witnesses and received 700 written submissions, among them accounts of children as young as nine attempting suicide while others had suffered anxiety, depression and self-harm.

A significant funding shortfall for children with Send was also highlighted in the report. The government recently announced a £780m increase in local authorities’ high-needs funding for Send, as well as its own review of the impact of the reforms, which were introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014.

MPs warned, however, that any additional money would be wasted unless there was a culture change within the government, schools and local authorities. They went on to criticise a lack of accountability in the system and an “unwillingness to grapple with unlawful practice”.

The report called for a more rigorous inspection framework with clear consequences for failure, and suggested a direct line for parents and schools so they can appeal straight to the DfE where local authorities were not complying with the law.

“The distance between young people’s lived experience, their families’ struggles and ministers’ desks is just too far,” the report said.

MPs recommended a greater focus on Send in school inspections and additional powers for the local government and the social care ombudsman. The report also called for more employment and training opportunities for over-16s.

The Conservative chair of the committee, Robert Halfon, said: “Despite the good intentions of the reforms, many children with Send are being let down day after day. Many parents face a Titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.

“The DfE cannot continue with a piecemeal and reactive approach to supporting children with Send. Rather than making do with sticking plasters, what is needed is a transformation, a more strategic oversight and fundamental change to ensure a generation of children is no longer let down.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, described the report as devastating and said it exposed a system on the verge of breakdown. “It is the latest evidence that the most vulnerable children are paying the highest price for this government’s cuts.”

A DfE spokesman said the additional £780m recently announced for Send brought the total amount spent on supporting those with the most complex needs to more than £7bn in 2020/21. “This report recognises the improvements made to the system over five years ago were the right ones, and put families and children at the heart of the process. But through our review of these reforms, we are focused on making sure they work for every child, in every part of the country.”

A wide variety of campaigning organisations supporting families and Send children welcomed the report. Jane Harris, the external affairs director at the National Autistic Society, said: “Autistic young people and their parents will be relieved that MPs have shown they understand the devastating experiences they have been through.

“But being heard isn’t enough. The government must act now to make sure that schools and local authorities have the resources they need to support children properly.”

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Schools and local authorities want to provide the best possible support for SEND pupils, but the tools needed are generally no longer available due to cuts to local services.”

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “Councils support the reforms set out in the Children and Families Act in 2014, but we were clear at the time that the cost of implementing them had been underestimated by the government.”
I have two sons, now 40 and 42, I know I would not have wanted a disruptive child like my brain damaged son, in the same class as my normal eldest son. School children and their teachers need a quiet controlled classroom to concentrate on learning.

My son with LD was in a special class in a normal school until he was 8 years old, and then went to a small independent special school which was very well tuned in to what he could, as well as what he could not do, as far as learning was concerned. He thrived. The state special school education wanted to send him to was utterly unsuitable. I had to appeal all the way to the Secretary of State for Education to get funding.

Later, when my health took a nose dive (no respite for 2 years, 14 courses of antibiotics in a year for constant infections) and my GP INSISTED that my son became a boarder at his school. The boarding element of his care had to be funded by Social Services, not education.

Children with very special needs have those needs for support wherever they are.
Out of school they are, or should be met by Social Services. So why not in school too?

Is it realistic to expect Education to be responsible for meeting the "care" needs of these children in mainstream school?
Some councils' school transport costs nearly as high as child social care.

Councils in England warn provision of home-to-school transport is under threat due to unsustainable costs.

Councils in England have warned that home-to-school transport, on which many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) depend, is under threat because of “unsustainable” costs and insufficient funding.

A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network has revealed that councils are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support or youth services.

In some areas where the costs of transport are disproportionately high, often because of long distances in rural settings, the LGA says the school transport budget is almost as large as the entire children’s social care budget.

According to the LGA, 550,000 young people currently receive free home-to-school transport each year, of which 145,000 are pupils with Send whose transport accounts for 69% of total expenditure. New analysis shows that annual costs have increased by £66m in the last four years and could rise by a further £127m to reach £1.2bn by 2024.

One of the key drivers for the increase in costs is that children with Send are increasingly being sent further afield to specialist schools because of a shortage of suitable places closer to home.

Campaigners have warned that cash-strapped councils are already making “ill-considered” cuts to home-to-school transport, prompting safeguarding concerns. In some cases, they say, disabled children with significant health needs are having to wait at pick-up points in freezing weather or are being asked to travel alone, when they really need support.

Gillian Doherty, the founder of the parents’ campaign network Send Action, said some are being asked to travel for unacceptable amounts of time as transport routes are changed to save money. Others have lost their transport entirely despite still being of compulsory school age, meaning their parents have had to give up work to transport them.

The LGA report found that councils had already cut discretionary transport spending by 27%, reducing the number of children receiving free home-to-school transport by more than 10,000 in five years. “Despite these efforts, many continue to have to tighten eligibility even further or strip back discretionary support altogether,” the LGA warns.

There has been a 27% increase in pupils being placed in special schools since 2014 as mainstream schools – faced with funding and accountability pressures, plus curriculum changes – feel less able to offer places to children with Send.

Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Free school transport is a lifeline for many pupils and their families but it must be adequately funded if councils are to meet their legal duties to all children and young people.

“While a special school may be the right setting for a particular child, it is also vital that mainstream schools are incentivised and rewarded for offering a high quality and suitable education for children with special needs.”

Doherty said: “We agree that ideally children with Send should be able to attend schools within their community. However, for this to happen, councils and the government must invest in the specialist provision that children need to thrive in local schools.”

The government recently announced a review of Send provision and has pledged additional funding.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want to make sure that children are able to access the free home to school transport they are entitled to, which is why we recently consulted on a revised version of the statutory home to school transport guidance. We will consider the recommendations outlined in this report alongside our response.”